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Saturday, September 17th - Race 8- Churchill Downs: G3 Iroquois $150,000
Analysis by Michael Patricks
While a large majority of attention will be focused on the tremendous turf races to be run at Woodbine on Saturday, there are also a bevy of competitive races to be examined from other racing circuits as well. As the fading days of summer evolve into falling leaves, pennant chases, and gridiron battles, racing’s 2 year-old landscape begins to take shape as the Breeders’ Cup to be run on November 5th at Santa Anita Park quickly begins to loom. Churchill Downs will showcase a couple of competitive 2 year-old events on Saturday: The Grade III Iroquois and the Grade II Pocahontas for fillies. Let’s take a look at the Iroquois and see who will take another step forward on Saturday:
Lookin At Lee
Post Position #1
Morning Line Odds: 6/1
Continues to improve with each and every start and like how he is trending upwards. Lee’s daddy, Lookin at Lucky, was one of those horses who kept getting better at age two and rode that positivism to be heavily supported at the windows in the 2010 Kentucky Derby before also drawing the rail which is a death knell in that race. His inside draw could prove to be a tactical advantage in this spot given how much speed is signed on in the Iroquois, and with most of them having to prove their valor at two turns. Trainer Steve Asmussen is notoriously tough at Churchill Downs and love the four workouts he sports over the track, putting plenty of air in the tires for his route debut. ‘Lee rallied professionally in the Ellis Park Juvenile and Asmussen goes to his main man Ricardo Santana for his graded-stakes debut. Have a feeling he will be a major player on Saturday as the only multiple race winner of the lot; intriguing runner at a succulent price.
Honor Thy Father
Post Position #2
Morning Line Odds: 8/1
3/5 odds vs. Lee last time and shows up today at 8/1 odds in the racing program. This is a classic example of how fast the landscape can change with respect to two-year-olds this time of year and also how fickle the gambler can be. ‘Father ran evenly last time without a noticeable turn of foot and had ‘Lee run right past him when it mattered most. Perhaps his maiden-breaker is more an indictment on the patsies he blasted than it is a poor reflection on him. ‘Father comes from a very strong outfit and I can’t fault those who are willing to go to the well one more time with him, especially since the price will be a whole lot healthier today. However, when push comes to shove it’s difficult to envision Thy Father offering must resistance, if any, to the rest of the cast who will be eyeing the top prizes in this spot; have to believe Thy Father will realize he’s not invited to the party around the 3/8ths pole on Saturday; appears more suspect than prospect--pass.
Post Position #3
Morning Line Odds: 20/1
Figured things out in start number three where he sat just off the pace and then put a maiden field away at Gulfstream last month. Now he must ship, take on winners, jump into graded stakes company and grab a new pilot in the process. Super Saver colt is a trier with some ability but there is no doubt that the water gets awfully deep for him on Saturday. The jock/trainer angle has not realized a winner to date and this feels like a true dice roll the more you dig into his form; gets taken to school today.
Post Position #4
Morning Line Odds: 7/2
Did very good things over this track in the spring before taking a couple months off between the maiden victory and his comeback effort at Del Mar last time. In the Best Pal, Thirstforlife was moderately supported against Grade II runners before being handled with relative ease by the top 2 year-old in California, Klimt. Were Klimt in the Iroquois on Saturday he would certainly be a heavy favorite and Thirstforlife only has six lengths to make up on him, so he certainly should get some credit against lesser company today. Mark Casse is becoming increasingly-prominent in horse racing’s “who’s who” of trainers and this guy deserves respect in this spot; expect him to be involved in the picture at the top of the lane and Geroux and Casse have done quite well together; logical player.
Post Position #5
Morning Line Odds: 4/1
Coach D. Wayne Lukas sends this one out who is sure to be hell bent for leather on making the lead after adding blinkers last time. ‘Will did run his eyeballs out at Saratoga in his graduation effort and earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure in the process. Encouraged by the fact that Lukas gives him four weeks between efforts to help avoid a possible bounce, this son of Blame appears to be a customary Lukas entrant in that he knows one way of going—to the front for as long as he can. Tactically speaking, Will’s running style will be problematic on Saturday. Recruiting Ready appears to be quicker than he is and there are others too who will fancy a similar style to that of Will and want to be contesting the pace early. Expect the fractions to be quite contentious and ‘Will to be tested on the front end yet again. Instead of blaming Will, you will only be blaming yourself if you’ve read this vignette only to see the parachute come out of this one when they turn for home on Saturday; call and raise against whatever he has to push to the center of the table.
Just Move On
Post Position #6
Morning Line Odds: 10/1
Completely freaked when sitting in behind ordinary fractions on the Arlington Park sod, winning by six emphatic lengths and giving his trainer his first victory of 2016 from a sample size of 40 starters. It’s certainly an encouraging sign that jockey Valdivia wants to stay on board and see what happens in his first dirt start. Trainer Patrick Byrne is best known for the job he did with Favorite Trick in 1997, training him to horse-of-the-year as a 2 year-old before Bill Mott took over the reins during his 3 year-old season. As mentioned, sometimes the light bulb goes on and horses like Just Move On figure out what they’re supposed to do and continue to fire. Really appreciate how he made one big run off slow and soggy fractions, but this one will have to show his heart against much tougher equine flesh on Saturday and get the feeling he could regress to the mean in graded company which would put him a cut below the others; must prove it again.
Post Position #7
Morning Line Odds: 3/1
Maryland-based hopeful always gets bet at the windows like he can’t lose and not surprisingly shows up favored in the Iroquois. Unsure whether the fact he was 14 lengths clear of third through fifth was more of a credit to his performance last time, or an indictment against who was behind him. ‘Ready will certainly be quickest off the blocks and it’s encouraging to see Gary Stevens making the trip east to jump aboard this spirited son of Algorithms. Get the feeling a lot of his fate will have everything to do with being able to relax on the front end and save some starch for the stretch run, something he was unable to do last time after he was a bull in a china shop at the ½ mile pole. The talent is unquestionably there and you can expect him to put away ‘Will at the top of the lane, but after that your guess is as good as mine as to what happens next for him at a short price; looms large with best effort.
Not This Time
Post Position #8
Morning Line Odds: 4/1
Flopped at 7/5 vs. Bitumen as chalk in debut after breaking slow and running mid pack from that point on. Came back at Ellis last time and put it all together in an emphatic maiden breaking effort, covering a mile in 1:35.4. Dale Romans is ultra-tough with young and improving horses and this son of Giant’s Causeway should relish any added distance he can get under his hooves. Expect Robby Albarado to keep him close in tow off a very lively pace and see what he’s made of nearing the ½ mile pole in his all-important, third lifetime start. Really like that he should be kept in the clear and outside of other early speed types. The work tab is there, love the September 3rd blowout over the local surface and this one could be a monster in the making; the pick.
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